THE FRONTIER STATE, 1818-48
RODNEY O. DAVIS
PIONEER ILLINOIS WAS both a place of escape and a land of hope for its earliest American settlers. In its latter capacity, it began to attract the attention of publicists and literary tourists as early as the years just after the War of 1812. The resulting promotional and travel literature, followed later by contemporary indigenous descriptions and reminiscent accounts by pioneers and political figures, ensured that much source material for historians would come to exist for this formative period in the state's history. Indeed, to a large extent the pioneer history of Illinois was the history of Illinois until the Civil War era, and a heavily studied portion of that history for the rest of the nineteenth century. Throughout the twentieth century, the preeminence of Abraham Lincoln also encouraged research on frontier Illinois, although admittedly much of it evinces a bias toward the biographical. The end result for the period has been an unusual richness of conventional sources as well as a considerable output of what might be called traditional "impressionistic" historical work.
Probably the best introduction to pioneer Illinois is still Theodore Calvin Pease , The Frontier State, 1818-1848 ( Springfield, 1918). Although it lacks a quality of conceptual precision, Pease's book is full of information, and his insights and evaluations for the most part continue to be sound. A more recent survey is R[oscoe] Carlyle Buley, The Old Northwest: Pioneer Period, 1815-1840 ( 2 vols., Indianapolis, 1950), which affords the advantage of placing Illinois in a comparative context with the other emerging states of the Great Lakes